Last Wednesday, my beloved cat, Achilles died. And as a sort of tribute to him I took I did a bit of research into the few Japanese superstitions about death.
The Deadly “4”
The first thing I found while researching was that the number 4 (四) in Japanese and death (死) are both pronounced “shi”, because of the verbal similarities, the number 4 is considered bad luck, it’s taken so seriously that even in some building’s, the elevator’s don’t list the 4th floor as the 4th floor, it just skips it and it becomes the 5th floor. Presenting someone with 4 gifts also is very offensive as the recipient would take it as you mean for them to die.
also the number 9 (九) is unlucky because it’s pronounced the same as pain (苦) and also the number 13, thanks to Westernized culture.
Anything thing that you do that is associated with funerals is considered unlucky. A mistake that people make is sticking their chopsticks straight into a bowl of rice, this would be a very easy mistake to make, and the reason for it being unlucky is because a bowl of rice with chopsticks sticking out of it is placed on an alter at funerals. Also passing food to other people chopstick to chopstick is unlucky because at funerals after the body is done cremating the guests stand around the ashes and pick out the bones with chopsticks and pass them along to everyone, person to person, chopsticks to chopsticks.
Please Don’t Feed the Animals
Basically everywhere, black cat’s are deemed unlucky, because years ago when someone was dead or dying a cat would be nearby, this is just because cat’s love heat, and when a person is dying, they might have a fever, or a blanket resulting in the body being nice and toasty for them to lie on, and basically the color black being associated with death resulted in black cat’s being the most feared.
In Japan, badgers are also deemed unlucky because apparently they wear masks to hide their eyes, they do this because they’re believed to be mischievous, evil and trouble-maker’s.
Other rules to follow
Rule: When a funeral car passes, hide your thumb
Reason: Thumb in Japanese is 親指, which literally translates to “parent finger”, so hiding your thumb is a way of protecting your parents
Rule: Don’t whistle at night or a snake will come and get you
Reason: The best reason I could find was to just keep kids quiet at night.
Rule: Don’t cut your nails at night because it will cause death, some different versions are, your parents will die, you will die with parents, basically, death.
Reason: Again, the best reason I could find was, parents didn’t want their children handling sharp objects in the dark.
I know there are many more Japanese superstitions, so if you know of the many more that I didn’t include in this post, please leave it as a comment. If you liked it, hated it, or really don’t care I’d love to hear from you, and If you really do like it please share it.